Friday, July 21, 2017

A Top Rohrabacher Aide Is Ousted After Russia Revelations

Paul Behrends, a controversial staffer associated with the California congressman’s pro-Russia stances, was pushed out of his role on a subcommittee after questions were raised about a recent trip to Moscow.
A picture of California Representative Dana Rohrabacher.
A picture of California Representative Dana Rohrabacher.
California Representative Dana RohrabacherMaxim Shemetov / Reuters


Paul Behrends, a top aide to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, has been ousted from his role as staff director for the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that Rohrabacher chairs, after stories appeared in the press highlighting his relationships with pro-Russia lobbyists.

“Paul Behrends no longer works at the committee,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesperson said on Wednesday evening.

Behrends accompanied Rohrabacher on a 2016 trip to Moscow in which Rohrabacher said he received anti-Magnitsky Act materials from prosecutors. The Magnitsky Act is a 2012 bill that imposes sanctions on Russian officials associated with the 2009 death in prison of  lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who had been investigating tax fraud. Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian attorney and lobbyist who met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower last year, reportedly brought up the Magintsky Act during the meeting.

Rohrabacher’s meeting in Moscow was an object of concern for embassy officials, who had warned the delegation about FSB presence in Moscow—warnings Rohrabacher brushed off.

“Paul Behrends has done a terrific job for me and the committee,” Rohrabacher said in a statement on Wednesday. “I have not heard anything to the contrary. I am looking forward to discussing this with the committee leadership. I am sure we will work this out."

Behrends is a controversial figure on the Hill, where he is seen by some who have worked with or around him as egging on Rohrabacher’s pro-Russia instincts.

Behrends worked for Rohrabacher in the 1990s before becoming a lobbyist. He rejoined Rohrabacher’s office in 2014.

One of the sources with knowledge of the events suggested that Behrends was fired from the committee under pressure from House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce.

There has been tension between Royce and Rohrabacher over Rohrabacher’s activities, and Royce scuttled Rohrabacher’s plan last year to screen an anti-Magnitsky film in Congress. Royce also nixed Rohrabacher’s plan to visit Moscow again earlier this year.

Another  Hill source said there was talk of a “shakeup” on the subcommittee chaired by Rohrabacher.

Behrends did not return requests for comment. Rohrabacher answered his cell phone but referred me to his press secretary, and then hung up.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Greek President’s Defiant Message to Turkey: Molon Labe

By Tasos Kokkinidis Greek Reporter

- Jul 19, 2017

President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos responded to provocations by Turkey using the ancient Greek phrase “Molon Labe,” which means come and take [them].

Pavlopoulos was on the Greek island of Agios Efstratios where he laid a wreath in memory of the first lieutenant Nikos Sialmas, whose plane crashed after engaging in a dogfight with Turkish fighters in 1992.

In a speech after the ceremony, Pavlopoulos talked about the “sacred memory” of Nikos Sialmas describing him as a hero.

He praised the Greek Armed Forces and continued: [Sialmas] sends a message to anyone who provokes and aspires to invade Greece. The only message that our history and our ancestors have taught us:”Molon Labe.”

A few hours earlier, Turkish warplane pilots warned the Greek pilot of the helicopter carrying Pavlopoulos that he had entered Turkish FIR when in fact the helicopter was flying over Greek territory.

The helicopter carrying Pavlopoulos and the accompanying helicopter were flying over the island of Panagia, when at 9:35 am and 9:37 am the Turkish pilots informed, via radio, that the Greek pilots were flying in Turkish airspace and they had to leave.

The Greek pilots, knowing that they were in Greek airspace, did not respond to the Turkish provocation and continued their course.

This was the second incident of the sort, as the same happened on Tuesday. The army helicopter carrying the Greek President on a tour in the Aegean received a radio message from a Turkish airforce saying that it was flying inside a demilitarized zone and such flights are forbidden.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat: The CIA And Trump, Immunology & Emerging Tech Companies Wrap Up The Week

A special meeting, Tenet, Pompeo

by Anita Busch
July 16, 2017 12:13pm

Associated Press

It was one of the best-received panels of the week at Herb Allen’s Sun Valley retreat: Immunology and therapy and the advances that could potentially be made to save lives and reverse damage in the human body. Immunotherapy already been used to an extent to fight cancer and was a noted scientific breakthrough back in 2013, but scientists told the attendees gathered in Idaho yesterday that immunotherapy/immunology will eventually be applied to other diseases as well.

RelatedHerb Allen's Sun Valley Retreat: Opioid Epidemic, Barry Diller, Bill Gates Take Center Stage
How does it work? It’s somewhat different than stem cells, but is the same concept. Doctors essentially remove certain ‘young’ cells from the body, genetically engineer them and then “re-infuse” them back into the body. Once complete, the human body’s own immune system starts fighting the disease. “It was only a 50-minute presentation but it made you want to read up on this after you left. They said they think it can find success with other kinds of diseases. You know, if it works on worms maybe eventually it will work on humans. It was fascinating,” said one conference attendee.


inRead invented by Teads

Associated Press

Also on the agenda was a talk between the former CIA director George Tenet and the current CIA director Mike Pompeo. “He did a pretty good job,” said one exec. “I was actually pretty impressed with him. He answered everything mostly politically because Trump put him in there, but the way he talked about things you could tell he knew what he was doing.” One of the few things that Pompeo revealed was that President Trump, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Secretary of Defense James Mattis apparently ask very detailed questions. For instance, where President Obama used to be briefed over a 45 minute period, President Trump will spend over an hour a day being briefed and asking questions.

Also presented on Saturday was the New Breed, companies who are on the edge of breakthrough technology. “They brought together a great group,” said one attendee. Those in the group included EATSA, Convoy and Bolt Threads.

Associated Press

Eatsa is an automated, fast-food restaurant started in San Francisco by tech guys Scott Drummond and Tim Young with ex-Google exec David Friedberg. It is cost efficient using fewer employees per restaurant. Often nicknamed ‘robot restaurants,’ they employ computers rather than cashiers and servers. You order through a kiosk and, although, there are real cooks behind the walls preparing food and shoving them out in bowls, the rest is all automated.

Eatsa can produce your order quickly and because there are few employees so it is cost-effective and the meals are cheaper, they explained to the attendees at Sun Valley. The restaurant chain has expanded from one eatery in San Fran to a total of five in CA and has entered New York and now D.C.

Another company was Convoy, which is basically Uber for the trucking industry. The app matches truckers with shipments. I can’t remember who originated the quote, it was some economist, but he said, “America is really an experiment in transportation.” Convoy, a start-up out of Seattle quickly made a deal with consumer food giant Unilever and then it was off to the races, so to speak. The company works with smaller companies, too. Their software basically lines up those needing trucking services for on-time pick-up and delivery.

Associated Press

Then there was Bolt Threads — it’s all about spider webs. Well, sort of. Founded in 2009, the California-based biotechnology company was interested in engineering certain kinds of sustainable fabrics from protein materials. They looked to the web of a spider which produces “high tensile strength, elasticity, durability and softness.” The started with making ties and are branching out to other garments. Surprisingly, spider silk is stronger than steel on a basis of per-weight (certainly the brown widow spider’s silk is). It is also breathable and stretchable.

The company basically engineers fabric out of protein inspired by spiders and other organisms: protein-based microfibers so it’s an alternative to petro-based (oil) products. In other words, it’s looking at a new form of chemical — a renewable one — garnered from proteins so as not to rely on toxic and unsustainable petrochemicals.

The week wrapped up last night with a final networking dinner.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Επικεφαλής του Πρωτοκόλλου του Στέιτ Ντιπάρτμεντ, ο ομογενής Μιχάλης Καρλούτσος


 "Οπότε για τα θέματα που ενδιαφέρουν την Κοινότητά μας, είτε είναι η Κύπρος, είτε το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο, είτε το όνομα της Μακεδονίας, είτε η Βόρειος Ηπειρος από την οποία όπως γνωρίζετε κατάγεται η μητέρα μου, αυτά είναι θέματα τα οποία σημαίνουν τα πάντα για μένα"

«Σ’ όλη μου τη ζωή ήθελα να υπηρετήσω τη χώρα μας, τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες της Αμερικής, και χαίρομαι που θα μπορέσω να το κάνω τώρα σ’ αυτή την κυβέρνηση και κάτω από αυτές τις συνθήκες που υπάρχουν στον κόσμο», είπε ο κ. Καρλούτσος.

Διαθέτοντας πείρα πολλών ετών στην πολιτική και τις δημόσιες σχέσεις, ο Μιχάλης Καρλούτσος διορίστηκε επικεφαλής του Πρωτοκόλου του υπουργείου Εξωτερικών των ΗΠΑ .

«Είναι μία καταπληκτική ευλογία και τιμή για μένα και ελπίζω ότι θα ανταποκριθώ στις προσδοκίες όλων ως επικεφαλής του Πρωτοκόλλου του Στέιτ Ντιπάρτμεντ», υπό τον υπουργό Εξωτερικών Ρεξ Τίλερσον, δήλωσε ο Μιχάλης Καρλούτσος σε αποκλειστική του συνέντευξη στον Εθνικό Κήρυκα της Νέας Υόρκης.

«Σ’ όλη μου τη ζωή ήθελα να υπηρετήσω τη χώρα μας, τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες της Αμερικής, και χαίρομαι που θα μπορέσω να το κάνω τώρα σ’ αυτή την κυβέρνηση και κάτω από αυτές τις συνθήκες που υπάρχουν στον κόσμο», είπε.

Εξηγώντας τη φύση της εργασίας του ανέφερε ότι «το Γραφείο Πρωτοκόλλου βασικά προάγει την υπεράσπιση της διπλωματίας για τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες της Αμερικής. Το ονομάζουν ‘το πρώτο χέρι της διπλωματίας’ και ο επικεφαλής της διπλωματίας είναι ο υπουργός Εξωτερικών. Καθιερώνουμε το Πρωτόκολλο μεταξύ των Ηνω μένων Πολιτειών και οποιασδήποτε άλλης κυβέρνησης ανά τον κόσμο με την οποία έχουμε σχέσεις».

«Εάν δείτε κάθε βήμα της καριέρα μου κατά τα τελευταία 25 χρόνια, από τις πολλές επισκέψεις του Οικουμενικού Πατριάρχη κ. Βαρθολομαίου στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες, την εργασία μου στην πολιτική, την εργασία που έκανα για τον Πάπα Φραγκίσκο στα Ιεροσόλυμα, κατόπιν στη Λέσβο και μετά βέβαια στη Μεγάλη Σύνοδο στην Κρήτη πέρυσι, νομίζω ότι όλα αυτά συντέλεσαν στην προετοιμασία μου για την ανάληψη τούτης της θέσης αυτή τη στιγμή». «Αισθάνομαι πιο έτοιμος από ποτέ και ευχαριστώ τον Θεό που έχω καλούς φίλους μέσα στην κυβέρνηση οι οποίοι είδαν την εργασία που έχω κάνει και αισθάνθηκαν πως ήμουν έτοιμος να αναλάβω αυτή τη θέση».

Σε ερώτηση σχετικά με το πώς θα μπορούσε να βοηθήσει την Ελληνοαμερικανική Κοινότητα με τα θέματα που απασχολούν τον Ελληνισμό και συγκεκριμένα αν θα μιλούσε στον Πρόεδρο και στον Υπουργό Εξωτερικών, τόνισε:

«Το όνομά μου είναι Μιχάλης Καρλούτσος και όλοι γνωρίζουν ποιος είμαι και τι πρεσβεύω. Είμαι πολύ υπερήφανος Ελληνοαμερικανός και πολύ υπερήφανος Ελληνορθόδοξος Χριστιανός και δεν θα ντραπώ ποτέ να εκφράσω τη γνώμη μου ιδιαίτερα για τα θέ ματα που γνωρίζω. Οπότε για τα θέματα που ενδιαφέρουν την Κοινότητά μας, είτε είναι η Κύπρος, είτε το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο, είτε το όνομα της Μακεδονίας, είτε η Βόρειος Ηπειρος από την οποία όπως γνωρίζετε κατάγεται η μητέρα μου, αυτά είναι θέματα τα οποία σημαίνουν τα πάντα για μένα. Θα εκφράσω τη γνώμη μου αλλά σεβαστικά στο γεγονός ότι τώρα είμαι μέρος μιας κυβέρνησης και θα υπάρχουν διαφορετικές από-ψεις στο τραπέζι των συζητήσε-ων, αλλά ελπίζω να κάνω τους ανθρώπους με τους οποίους θα συζητώ να καταλάβουν γιατί τα θέματα στα οποία πιστεύω είναι επίσης καλά για την Αμερική. Με την πολιτική, η Αμερική πρώτα, πρέπει πάντοτε να το έχει κάποιος αυτό στο μυαλό του, αλλά ξέρω πώς να το κάνω».

Πηγή: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ.

Σερβικός Στρατός: Η ικανή πυραυλική παρουσία στην άσκηση στη Βουλγαρία

Image result for serbia bulgaria army

Serbia Bulgaria millitary drill

Ιούλιος 18, 2017. Echedoros

«Μέλη της 250ης Πυραυλικής Ταξιαρχίας των Ενόπλων Δυνάμεων της Σερβίας,  μαζί με τους συναδέλφους από τον βουλγαρικό Στρατό, με επιτυχία έφεραν εις πέρας τις πυραυλικές εκτοξεύσεις στον εναέριο χώρο της Βουλγαρία, στο πεδίο ασκήσεων της Μαύρης Θάλασσας, κοντά στη Βάρνα»,

σημειώνει το δημοσίευμα του σερβικού πρακτορείου Tangug, το οποίο επικαλείται η Σερβική Ραδιοτηλεόραση  στην ηλεκτρονική σελίδα της.

Τις κοινές εκτοξεύσεις πυραύλων  των μελών των δύο Ενόπλων Δυνάμεων παρακολούθησε ο πρόεδρος της Βουλγαρίας, Ρούμεν Ράντεφ, ο οποίος έφθασε στην ακτή της Μαύρης Θάλασσας και συναντήθηκε με τον διοικητή της Σερβικής Πολεμικής Αεροπορίας, ταξίαρχο Σάβο Μιλένκοβιτς και εκπροσώπους της 250ης Ταξιαρχίας Πυραύλων, καθώς και τον συνταγματάρχη Μίλαν Πόποβιτς, ο οποίος είναι επικεφαλής της αντιπροσωπείας του σερβικού στρατού.

Σύμφωνα με την αξιολόγηση της άσκησης από τον ταξίαρχο Μιλένκοβιτς, ‘παρά τις πολύ δυσμενείς καιρικές συνθήκες,  που σε τέτοιες δεν έχουν δοκιμασθεί, τα μέλη της 250ης Ταξιαρχίας Πυραύλων πραγματοποίησαν με επιτυχία την αποστολή τους, καταρρίπτοντας όλους τους στόχους' .

Η συνεργασία με την Πολεμική Αεροπορία της Βουλγαρίας άρχισε το 2010, όταν πραγματοποιήθηκαν οι πρώτες ασκήσεις και η φετινή είναι η τέταρτη της κοινής στρατιωτικής άσκησης Σερβίας- Βουλγαρίας.

Στο χώρο του πεδίου βολής του βουλγαρικού στρατού στη Μαύρη Θάλασσα, όχι μακριά από τη Βάρνα, τα μέλη της πολεμικής αεροπορίας του Στρατού της Σερβίας, πραγματοποίησαν με επιτυχία βολές το 2010, το 2011 και το 2013.

The political awakening of Croatia's islands

The islanders of Croatia want to be protagonists of their future, and their voices have arrived to Zagreb. A review
27/06/2017 -  Giovanni Vale
Hvar, Vis, Korčula... Those who had the opportunity to take a trip off the coast of Dalmatia will recall sunny beaches, crystal clear waters, and breathtaking landscapes. However, for a few months the names of the Croatian islands have been – less commonly – associated with mobilisation and political turmoil.

Instead of being a passive tourist destination, visited by millions of people every year, Croatia's archipelago now intends to become active protagonist of its future. The long spring of the Croatian coast has begun at the end of 2015, when a group of women coming from there founded Pokret Otoka ("the Movement of the Islands"), but it has undergone a remarkable acceleration at the last local elections, between late May and early June 2017. Finally, just a week ago, a series of anti-government demonstrations, caused by the reform of the "Law on Concessions" and headed by this movement, took place in a dozen coastal cities, reaching then the Parliament in Zagreb.

The genesis of Pokret Otoka
To understand what is happening on the Croatian islands, we need to start from their present condition. In a country where tourism accounts for almost a fifth of GDP and revolves around the coast and the summer, the thousands of Dalmatian islands are regarded first of all as tourist destinations, and they are generally less populated and less connected to the mainland off-season. Administratively speaking, they depend on the centres on the coast, from Rijeka to Dubrovnik, including Senj, Zara, Šibenik, and Split. Their long-term development, planned in this case in Zagreb, is inevitably shaped by the interests of the hotel, catering, and services sectors, that live off the flow of visitors.

The concerns and daily issues faced by the islanders are at the origin of Pokret Otoka, a movement that seeks to imagine and plan a sustainable future for the islands, in order to combine the vital role of tourism with the protection of the environment and greater sensitivity to the needs of those who actually live on these beautiful lands. Ecotourism, sustainable agriculture, good waste management, and balancing mass tourism and natural resources are some of the priorities of the Movement of the Islands, which denounces "the unbalanced system that today characterises the islands", in Antonia Banović's words, a graduate in Literature and International Relations and one of Pokret Otoka's activists.

"The problems faced by the Croatian islands are similar to those of other European archipelagos", adds Banović, who saw her movement "internationalise" in a few months. Invited several times to Brussels and Strasbourg (thanks to the work of some Croatian MEPs), Pokret Otoka is now in contact with "Dafni", the "Greek Sustainable Islands Network", and other similar European groups. On March 28, the multilateral talks led to the signing of the Smart Island Declaration, which lays out in 10 points the issues raised by Pokret Otoka in Croatia.

The battle on concessions
While islanders across Europe are gradually joining forces, Pokret Otoka has already taken action against some privatisations (or, to be precise, "concessions") of public spaces on the islands. The first case involved Zlatni Rat ("Golden Horn"), the famous beach in Bol, on the island of Brač. In mid-April, the Split county decided to entrust the management of the space for a period of 15 years to "Sport B", a shadowy company based in Zagreb, running a deficit in the budget and having not even one employee. The protests by the inhabitants of Bol – where a municipal company has taken care of the beach for 12 years – forced Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to intervene personally and order an investigation into the decision of the Split authorities, to verify whether there had been irregularities in the assignment procedure. "The inspection proved that three laws had been violated: on maritime goods, on concessions, and on public procurement", says Josip Bačić of the Initiative "For Zlatni Rat".

After the government's intervention, the concession was cancelled. Waiting for a new call, the municipal company obtained the management of the beach for another year. But it did not go so well in other cases. "The mayor of Novaglia, on the island of Pago, had to sue the Lika and Segna county for the concession of the Zrće beach", continues Bačić. Zrće, also known as the Croatian Ibiza, has ended up for the next two decades in the hands of the security company of Josip Klemm, a war veteran close to the far right.

In such a delicate environment, where the most famous spots of the Dalmatian archipelago are coveted by the most disparate brands of entrepreneurs, the reform of the "Law on Concessions" immediately attracted the attention of Pokret Otoka activists. "The legislation in question – explains Maja Jurišić – covers all public spaces except for forests, that are considered as a strategic area". The main criticism targets the government's plan to "approve the amendments without going through public consultation as prescribed by the law".

On Sunday, June 18, hundreds of people took to the streets in a dozen islands to demand a public debate on the law, as was the case in 2015, before a political crisis led to the end of the Orešković government and the abandonment of the text (subsequently modified again by the Parliament). Many elements in the legislation concern the islanders, since "the concession mandate, once assigned by a county authority, can be used by the private party as a guarantee to get a loan at a bank", says Maja Jurišić. This way, "commons are likely to end up in the hands of a bank in case of insolvency", warns Jurišić, who is also concerned by the return to power of the Croatian People's Party (HNS). "They were the ones, in 2015, to launch the oil exploration project in the Adriatic, then cancelled", the young activist reminds.

If the new legislation were passed, in short, the awarding of concessions for a couple of decades could become a de facto property transfer. This is the concern of David Kabalin, who founded the movement "Protect the Beaches of Rab". "The truth is, beaches are all is left to privatise in Croatia", says Kabalin. And in a country where beaches make up for nearly 20 percent of GDP, the battle for their management will be a long one. As of now, Pokret Otoka announced a signature campaign.

Vucic invites Trump to visit Serbia, promises "best welcome"


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who visiting to Washington, on Monday met with US Vice President Mike Pens.


According to Vucic, he and Pence agreed to have personal communication in future.

He assessed that the meeting in the White House has "further contributed to creating greater mutual trust."

"We agreed to continue our personal communication and I think that this meeting, after an important conversation with senators and congressmen, further contributed to the strengthening of Serbian-American relations, creating greater trust and an even stronger friendship," Vucic told reporters.

He said the meeting was excellent, and noted that he congratulated US President Donald Trump and Pence on their election victory, "but also on the important things they are doing for their country."

Vucic said he invited Trump and Pence to visit Serbia, as he believes they will have the best welcome in this part of Europe, and beyond, "precisely in our country."

Speaking for TV Pink after the meeting, the Serbian president said he was very satisfied with the content of the conversation, the tone and the way of communication, the topics, and the interlocutors' agreement on a number of things that they discussed.

He said that he talked with Pence about all open issues: relations in the region, bilateral relations, how to attract as many US investors as possible.

"The third level of the conversation was the global problem with terrorism, and a natural theme was the relationship with Russia," Vucic said, adding that he spoke "very openly, with gloves off."

"Serbia cannot meet everyone's requirements. We have an independent policy and we cannot respond to all questions in a way the host wants. Pence was very fair and I did not put me in a difficult situation for a moment," said Vucic.

"The United States is not an enemy of Serbia," he continued, adding that "we must work to have a different US attitude towards Serbia."

"We will not agree on everything, it is not realistic and possible, but these differences should not make our relationships worse. Serbia must have a stable position and cannot be endangered. Serbia guards the freedom of its citizens and the freedom to make decisions. We are nobody's pets, everyone respects us," Vucic said.

He noted that he congratulated Trump and Pence on their victory, and told the latter that Serbia was "the only country in the region that greeted the result with great enthusiasm."

"This speaks to Serbia not having an anti-American attitude, and that it wanted to show how much it wants open relations with the United States," Vucic said.

Vucic also said that he expressed a clear position to the US vice president when it comes to relations with Russia - "how Serbia views certain things in the region, and where and on what issues it has the Russian Federation's support, that is lacking from other countries."

Asked how Pence reacted to this, Vucic replied:

"I was very open. I talked a little differently, with gloves off, and at one point Pence said he liked that I was speaking openly."

Vucic gave no details about that part of the conversation, but said, referring to those who attended the meeting, that they could be "proud of the way he spoke to Pence."

"One is not here to respond in a way somebody wants one to. My job is that Serbia is not opposed to the United States. Serbia has its own independent policy and we will try not only to preserve it but also to build a friendship with the US," said Vucic.

He added that he "did not respond to everything in a positive way, but did do it in a rational way. "

According to Vucic, Pence "understood well what he was talking about."

"I talked about what Serbs feel, and how they feel neglected, sometimes humiliated, and that all of us must somehow change that. I think that is more balanced - to strive for everyone in the region to be satisfied to a degree, instead of Serbs always being sad and dissatisfied, humiliated, while others are satisfied," Vucic said.

Speaking about the part of the meeting that concerned the 1999 killing of the Bytyqi brothers, Vucic said Pence's approach was "fair":

"He did not want to put me in a difficult position. We know what our responsibilities are, I did not want to run away from the responsibility of Serbia for that crime, but I will defend the country from the insults to our people."

Vucic also spoke with the chairman and the ranking member of the US Senate Subcommittee on Europe, Ron Johnson and Chris Murphy.

Washington recognizes that issues in the Balkans cannot be solved without leadership from Belgrade, the two senators said on Monday.

After meeting with Vucic, they said Washington understood very well the significance of stronger cooperation among the US, Serbia and the EU.

Earlier in the day, Vucic spoke with representatives of US companies that included Cisco Systems, General Electric, NCR and Coca-Cola to present possibilities for investment in Serbia, to which they responded positively and with interest.

Vucic also attended a working breakfast with the Business Council for International Understanding, hosted in his honor on Capitol Hill.

The Office of the Serbian president said that Vucic had briefed the BCIU on Serbia's economic reform over the past two years, and the country's efforts to improve the terms of doing business with foreign investors.

Vucic said that Serbia had made important investments in the national road infrastructure, that it is a politically stable state, offering a package of incentives to foreign investors, which makes it one of the best investment destinations in the West Balkans.

The meeting in Washington was attended by representatives of Coca Cola, UBER, Rio Tinto, Bechtel, General Electric, NCR, Motorola, Freeport, XCUBE International, MClarty associates, and others.

Upon his arrival in the United States on Sunday, Vucic said that he expected "important talks for Serbia" to take place during his visit.

"I see from the announcements that they will be interested in Belgrade's stance on Pristina, and the stance toward Russia. We will speak about out positions and try to get support for a policy of seriousness, responsibility and problem-solving in the Western Balkans," Belgrade media reported Vucic as saying, according to Beta.

He said that the 2008 torching of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade would be mentioned too, as would the case of US citizens the Bytyqi brothers, slain in Petrovo Selo in 1999, the agency reported.

His two-day visit to Washington began on Sunday with a meeting with Chief of the Bureau of National Guard USA Joseph Lengyel and Major General Mark Bartman, commander of the Ohio National Guard.

Vucic expressed his satisfaction with the cooperation between the Serbian Army and the US National Guard, stressing that military cooperation remains the best part of overall bilateral relations between Serbia and the United States, and represents an excellent basis for further improvement of bilateral relations in all other areas.

"The Republic of Serbia has a consistent policy of military neutrality and integration policy towards the EU as a strategic foreign policy objective, with a commitment to maintaining peace and stability and economic prosperity of the Republic of Serbia and the entire region of the Western Balkans," Vucic said, Tanjug reported.

Lengyel highlighted the importance of the relationship between the US National Guard and the Serbian Army for both countries. "Our partnership is important for the region's peace and stability," he has been quoted as saying.

Vucic said he was grateful for the deployment of Ohio National Guard members in Kosovo and Metohija. The two collocutors stressed the importance of the program of humanitarian assistance within the partnership with the Ohio National Guard, especially in towns like Kraljevo, a press release quoted by Beta said.

Albania army clears 2 hotspots of dangerous ammunition

By Associated Press

PUBLISHED: 18 July 2017

TIRANA, Albania (AP) - Albania's Defense Ministry says the army has cleared two hot spots of dangerous ammunition in southern Albania.

A statement Tuesday said 52,000 sq. meters (62,200 sq. yards) of land in Kordhoce and Picar communes, 230 kilometers (140 miles) south of the capital Tirana, were cleared of thousands of shells, grenades and other ammunition.

An explosion in Picar in 1997, when Albanians who lost their life savings in fake pyramid investment schemes looted army depots, killed four soldiers.

Minister Mimi Kodheli said the army will clean four other sites by the end of 2018.

More than 100,000 small weapons and thousands of tons of excess ammunition have been destroyed by the army, which, since the country became a NATO member in 2009, has replaced its old Kalashnikov automatic rifles with NATO-standard weaponry.

Διπλή τουρκική πρόκληση σε βάρος Π.Παυλόπουλου και Π.Καμμένου σε Ρόδο και Αγαθονήσι: «Να φύγετε! - Εδώ είναι Τουρκία»!

Διπλή τουρκική πρόκληση σε βάρος Π.Παυλόπουλου και Π.Καμμένου σε Ρόδο και Αγαθονήσι: «Να φύγετε! - Εδώ είναι Τουρκία»!
Η Αγκυρα κλιμακώνει τις προκλήσεις και μάλιστα σε βάρος του Προέδρου της Δημοκρατίας Προκόπη Παυλόπουλου: Το αεροσκάφος του επικεφαλής του ελληνικού κράτους, ο οποίος επισκέπτεται τα ακριτικά νησιά του Α.Αιγαίου και επιθεωρεί τις φρουρές, προσέγγιζε τη Ρόδο για προσγείωση, όταν οι χειριστές των τουρκικών ραντάρ επιχείρησαν να επικοινωνήσουν με το αεροσκάφος και προειδοποίησαν ότι "παραβιάζει τον τουρκικό εναέριο χώρο"!

Ελληνικά μαχητικά αεροσκάφη τα οποία βρισκόντουσαν αρκετά κοντά στο αεροσκάφος του ΠτΔ δεν άφησαν κανένα περιθώριο πιθανής έμπρακτης αμφισβήτησης από τουρκικά μαχητικά και έτσι σιώπησε το τουρκικό ραντάρ.

Οι προκλήσεις των Τούρκων όμως δεν σταμάτησαν εκεί, καθώς λίγο αργότερα επανέλαβαν την γνωστή προκλητική τους τακτική, επικοινωνώντας με το CH-47DGR Chinook της Αεροπορίας Στρατού, στο οποίο επέβαιναν εκτός από τον Πρόεδρο της Δημοκρατίας, ο Πάνος Καμμένος και η ηγεσία των Ενόπλων Δυνάμεων.

Οι Τούρκοι προειδοποίησαν εκ νέου ότι η πορεία του ελληνικού ελικοπτέρου βρισκόταν εντός του τουρκικού FIR, παρά το ότι κατευθυνόταν προς το Φαρμακονήσι και το Αγαθονήσι, όπου οι κ.κ Παυλόπουλος και Καμμένος επισκέφθηκαν τα φυλάκια των ακριτικών νησιών, εννοώντας ότι τα νησιά δεν ανήκουν στην Ελλάδα, αλλά είναι αμφισβητούμενου ιδιοκτησιακού καθεστώτος...


Αναζήτηση αυτού του ιστολογίου
Ελλάδα και Δυτικά Βαλκάνια
Ιουλίου 17, 2017

Οι πρόσφατες εξελίξεις σε Αλβανία και Σκόπια αναδεικνύουν την μεγάλη γεωπολιτική ρευστότητα που επικρατεί στα Δυτικά Βαλκάνια. Μάλιστα σε πρόσφατο άρθρο μας είχαμε αναλύσει τα τεκταινόμενα σε Σερβία, Μαυροβούνιο, Κόσσοβο και Βοσνία.

Η εκλογική νίκη Ράμα στην Αλβανία ενίσχυσε τον αλβανικό εθνικισμό, αύξησε  τις διώξεις κατά της Ελληνικής Εθνικής Μειονότητας της Βορείου Ηπείρου και αποθράσυνε τους τσάμηδες που συνεχίζουν τις προκλήσεις τους.

Ταυτόχρονα η αστάθεια στην περιοχή αυξάνει καθώς Αλβανία και Κόσσοβο ασκούν τεράστιες πιέσεις ενάντια στο μόρφωμα των Σκοπίων.

Η τριμερής συνάντηση των ηγετών Ελλάδας, Σερβίας και Βουλγαρίας που πραγματοποιείται στη Θεσσαλονίκη, την ώρα που καταγράφουμε τις σκέψεις μας στο παρόν άρθρο, επιβεβαιώνει σε κάθε περίπτωση τον σταθεροποιητικό ρόλο τον οποίο οφείλουν να διαδραματίσουν η Αθήνα, το Βελιγράδι και η Σόφια απέναντι στην  ανιστόρητη, ανεύθυνη και συνάμα προκλητική στάση τόσο των Τιράνων όσο και των Σκοπίων.

Η αναβίωση του αλβανικού εθνικισμού είναι ιδιαίτερα ανησυχητική καθώς τα Τίρανα προωθούν με μοχλό το Κόσοβο την αλυτρωτική ιδέα της μεγάλης Αλβανίας που διεκδικεί αλλαγή συνόρων στα Βαλκάνια και εδάφη τα οποία ανήκουν στην Ελλάδα.

Όσο όμως η Αλβανία ασκεί μια παράνομη και παράλογη αλυτρωτική πολιτική κατά της Ελλάδας, η οποία φιλοξενεί επί δεκαετίες και δίνει ψωμί και δουλειά σε χιλιάδες αλβανούς οικονομικούς μετανάστες που ζουν στην Πατρίδα μας, το μόνο που θα πετύχει η αλβανική ηγεσία είναι να βλάψει ανεπανόρθωτα τις ελληνο-αλβανικές σχέσεις.

Η Αλβανία λοιπόν πρέπει να αντιληφθεί ότι οφείλει να σεβαστεί τα δικαιώματα της Ελληνικής Εθνικής Μειονότητας της Βορείου Ηπείρου τα οποία καταπατά βάναυσα. Μιας Μειονότητας με πληθυσμό άνω των 250.000 ατόμων. Μια Μειονότητα η οποία στις 17 Φεβρουαρίου γιόρτασε την Επέτειο συμπλήρωσης 103 ετών από την Ανακήρυξη της Αυτονομίας της Βορείου Ηπείρου στις 17-2-1914.

Στις 15-2-2016 στο πλαίσιο της Ολομέλειας του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου καταψήφισα την Έκθεση του 2016 για την Αλβανία. Πρώτα απ’ όλα διότι διαφωνώ κάθετα με οποιασδήποτε προοπτική ένταξης της Αλβανίας στην ΕΕ. Δεύτερον διότι η Έκθεση δεν ήταν ισορροπημένη. Ήταν μεροληπτική υπέρ των Τιράνων και δεν ανέφερε  βασικά ζητήματα όπως είναι η συνεχής παραβίαση των δικαιωμάτων της Ελληνικής Εθνικής Μειονότητας της Βορείου Ηπείρου. Παραβιάσεις που γίνονται από την πλευρά της κυβέρνησης της Αλβανίας με κατασχέσεις περιουσιών, με την παράνομη αρπαγή της περιουσίας 123 οικογενειών της Ελληνικής Εθνικής Μειονότητας της Βορείου Ηπείρου στους Δρυμάδες της Χειμάρρας, με κατεδαφίσεις εκκλησιών, διώξεις, απειλές και κυρίως με μετακινήσεις πληθυσμών στην περιοχή της Βορείου Ηπείρου προκειμένου να αλλοιωθεί η εκεί πληθυσμιακή σύνθεση. Επιπλέον τα Τίρανα αξιοποιούν εις βάρος της Ελλάδας τους τσάμηδες που έχουν καταδικαστεί στη χώρα μας από τα ειδικά δικαστήρια δοσιλόγων ως εγκληματίες πολέμου αφού  ήταν συνεργάτες των SS κατά τη διάρκεια της γερμανικής κατοχής στην Ελλάδα. Παρότι λοιπόν η ΕΕ οφείλει να λάβει μέτρα προστασίας της  Ελληνικής Εθνικής Μειονότητας της Βορείου Ηπείρου εντούτοις κωφεύει.

Στις 5/4/2017 μιλώντας στην Ολομέλεια του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου κατήγγειλα τα Σκόπια τα οποία κατά παράβαση της διεθνούς νομιμότητας έκλεισαν παράνομα τα σύνορά τους για τους πρόσφυγες. Η ενέργειά τους αυτή καταδικάστηκε και από τον πρώην Γενικό Γραμματέα του ΟΗΕ κ. Μπαν Κι Μουν. Κλείνοντας τον νόμιμο βαλκανικό διάδρομο τα Σκόπια εγκλώβισαν στην Ελλάδα χιλιάδες πρόσφυγες και αντί η ΕΕ να τα ανακαλέσει στην τάξη ο ίδιος ο πρόεδρος του Ευρωπαϊκού Συμβουλίου Ντόναλντ Τουσκ επιβράβευσε τη στάση τους. Επιβράβευσε δηλαδή τους σκοπιανούς που κατά παράβαση του διεθνούς δικαίου χτύπησαν στα σύνορα με την Ελλάδα στην Ειδομένη χιλιάδες πρόσφυγες και έριξαν παράνομα εντός του Ελληνικού εδάφους χειροβομβίδες κρότου λάμψης και δακρυγόνα κατά των χιλιάδων εγκλωβισμένων στην Ειδομένη προσφύγων.

Ο αλυτρωτισμός των Σκοπίων εκφράζεται με την παραχάραξη της ιστορίας και την καπηλεία του ονόματος της Μακεδονίας μας. Τα Σκόπια λοιπόν πρέπει να αντιληφθούν ότι ο Ελληνικός λαός δεν πρόκειται να δεχθεί την καπηλεία του ονόματος της Μακεδονίας μας. Επίσης δεν πρόκειται για το όνομα των Σκοπίων ο Ελληνικός λαός να δεχθεί σύνθετη ονομασία με οποιοδήποτε γεωγραφικό προσδιορισμό. Επισημαίνω δε για άλλη μια φορά ότι είμαι κάθετα αντίθετος σε οποιαδήποτε μελλοντική ένταξη των Σκοπίων στην ΕΕ.

Και όμως παρότι το τελευταίο διάστημα η Ελλάδα δέχεται εμφανείς προκλήσεις τόσο από την Αλβανία όσο και από τα Σκόπια εντούτοις οι Βρυξέλλες περί άλλων τυρβάζουν
Καθώς λοιπόν η κατάσταση είναι τεταμένη στην περιοχή των Δυτικών Βαλκανίων και εντελώς αποσταθεροποιημένη από την αλβανικό αλυτρωτισμό, τη θνησιγενή κατάσταση στην οποία βρίσκεται το μόρφωμα των Σκοπίων και τις συνεχείς ύπουλες παρεμβάσεις της Άγκυρας, η Αθήνα πρέπει να βρίσκεται σε συνεχή εγρήγορση.»

Νότης Μαριάς, Πρόεδρος του Κόμματος «ΕΛΛΑΔΑ – Ο ΑΛΛΟΣ ΔΡΟΜΟΣ» Ευρωβουλευτής, Καθηγητής Θεσμών ΕΕ στο Πανεπιστήμιο Κρήτης

Michael Karloutsos Appointed State Department Acting Chief of Protocol

TNH Staff July 18, 2017

National Herald

Michael Karloutsos has extensive experience in politics and public relations.

WASHINGTON, DC – Michael Karloutsos has been appointed Acting Chief of Protocol, a high-profile position in the State Department, and will begin on July 23. He brings many years of extensive experience in politics and public relations to the position.

In an exclusive interview with TNH, Karloutsos said that this appointment “is an incredible blessing and honor and I can only hope that I will meet everyone’s expectations” in this capacity. “I will serve as the Acting Chief of Protocol for the United States Government out of the State Department.”

He said the position “is a dream come true. My entire life I wanted to serve our country, the United States of America, and to be able to do it right now under the current administration, under these circumstances in which the world finds itself is an incredible honor, but also a great challenge.”

Explaining what his job will entail, Karloutsos said that “the Protocol Office overall serves essentially as the first line of defense in diplomacy for the United Stated of America. They call it ‘the first hand of diplomacy’ and the chief diplomat of the United States of America is the secretary of state. We establish the protocol between the United States of America and every other governments around the world with which we engage.” Karloutsos will work under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Michael Karloutsos with Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Mountain of Olives in Jerusalem.

Explaining how and why he was chosen for the position, Karloutsos pointed to his vast and varied experiences, such as his involvement “every step of the way over the last 25 years of the many visits of the ecumenical patriarch to the United States, my work in politics, the work that I did with Pope Francis in Jerusalem, and then in Lesbos, and then of course the Great and Holy Council in Crete last year. I think all those things serve as preparation for me to assume the position at this time.” Also, “I thank God I that have good friends within the Administration who saw the work that I have done and they felt I was ready to assume that job.” He said “I am grateful to (Chief of Staff) Reince Priebus and (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Advance) George Gigicos” for their recommendations.

Will the position be permanent? “It is a political appointment by the president of the United States and I will work at the pleasure of the president and the secretary of state, and God willing I will do a good job and I will stay as long as they are in office,” Karloutsos said.

Though he has not met President Trump personally as yet, “I have been in many situations with him over the course of the last year,” Karloutsos said. “I am not the type of person to promote myself, so when I had the opportunity over the last few months I did not push myself to get a picture or shake hands, but I am looking forward to that moment and obviously there are going to be many of those moments.”


How can/would he help the Greek-American community? “My name is Michael Karloutsos,” he began, “and people know who I am and what I stand for. I am a very proud Greek-American, I am a very proud Greek Orthodox Christian, and I will never shy away for voicing my opinion, especially on the issues that I know about. So, on the issues of our community, whether Cyprus, the Patriarchate, the name of Macedonia – those are causes that mean everything to me and I will not be shy voicing my opinion. I will be respectful of the fact that now I am part of government, of the Administration, and there will be differences of opinion at the table, but hopefully I can always make people understand why the causes I believe in are also good for America. With an America First policy you always have to keep that in mind, but I know how to do it.”

Michael Karloutsos with his wife, Anastasia, and their children visiting the Parthenon.

Regarding last year’s GHC, Karloutsos said “the highlight for me was the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was something that was absolutory undeniable because only through the Grace of God and the Holy Spirit could the GHC have taken place with everything that was going on in the world. With the interference of the Russian Church, the politics in world at that point in time, for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and his primate brethren to have the courage to convene was remarkable to me and I was really blessed to be part of it.”

As for the community in general, “we have our struggles, but we have an incredible community filled with dynamic leaders, dedicated people who really love their cultural identity. We have our challenges, like many ethnic groups: how we remain Greek but also remain American> How do we remain Orthodox and also good Americans? It is something we struggle with, but we are a very strong community and I believe in the end we will be ok.”

The native New Yorker lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife, Anastasia, their four children Alexander, Konstantina, Stylianos, and Michael Jr., and his godson Joshua.

Michael Karloutsos with his wife, Anastasia.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Οι ομογενείς της Αλβανίας


Οι πρόσφατες βουλευτικές εκλογές στη γειτονική Αλβανία έδωσαν αυτοδυναμία στον Σοσιαλιστή ηγέτη Εντι Ράμα που εξελίσσεται πλέον σε πολιτικό ηγεμόνα, με ό,τι μπορεί να σημαίνει αυτό σε μια χώρα όπου, 26 χρόνια μετά την κατάρρευση του κομμουνιστικού καθεστώτος, η Δημοκρατία εξακολουθεί να μην πατάει γερά στα πόδια της.

Αν η συντριπτική και αδιαμφισβήτητη, παρά το πλήθος των καταγγελιών για μαζική εξαγορά ψήφων με «ναρκοδηνάρια», επικράτηση του απρόβλεπτου Ράμα ήταν το κορυφαίο γεγονός, για την ελληνική μειονότητα της Αλβανίας το εκλογικό αποτέλεσμα μόνο ως συντριβή μπορεί να εκληφθεί, αφού η οργανωμένη πολιτική της εκπροσώπηση, το κόμμα του ΚΕΑΔ, έβγαλε μετά βίας μόλις έναν βουλευτή. Και αυτόν μέσα από τη λίστα του αλβανικού Δημοκρατικού Κόμματος. Το εκλογικό πλήγμα ήταν ισχυρό αλλά αναμενόμενο. Το Κόμμα Ενωσης Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων (ΚΕΑΔ) και μαζί η ελληνική ομογένεια κινδύνεψαν να βρεθούν πρώτη φορά από το 1991, όταν ιδρύθηκε η οργάνωση «Ομόνοια» –η οποία στις πρώτες δημοκρατικές εκλογές εξέλεξε πέντε βουλευτές–, χωρίς φωνή στο Kοινοβούλιο.

Από εκείνη την εποχή μέχρι και το 2002 το ΚΕΑΔ ήταν κυρίαρχη πολιτική δύναμη στις μειονοτικές περιοχές. Eκτοτε ο εκλογικός κατήφορος του κόμματος και της οργάνωσης υπήρξε ασυγκράτητος, φτάνοντας τώρα σε σημείο να «ικετεύει», μέσα από ανισότιμες συμμαχίες, τα μεγάλα αλβανικά κόμματα, που κάνουν τα δικά τους παιγνίδια στην πλάτη της ομογένειας, για την επιβίωση και παρουσία του στη Βουλή. Η σκληρή πραγματικότητα είναι ότι οι ομογενείς της Αλβανίας στην πλειονότητά τους εγκατέλειψαν τις πατρογονικές τους εστίες και όσοι απέμειναν δείχνουν να έχουν χάσει την εμπιστοσύνη τους στους πολιτικούς τους ταγούς. Προτιμούν στις εκλογές τους μειονοτικούς υποψηφίους που συμμετέχουν στα αλβανικά κόμματα από το αμιγώς δικό τους, θεωρητικά, ψηφοδέλτιο, ενώ όσοι ζουν και εργάζονται στην Ελλάδα, αλλά διατηρούν τα εκλογικά τους δικαιώματα, αρνούνται να πάνε να ψηφίσουν. Ευθύνες για την πολιτική εξαέρωση του ΚΕΑΔ υπάρχουν σε όλες τις πλευρές, πρωτίστως φυσικά στην ηγεσία του, και πρέπει να αναζητηθούν και να επιμεριστούν με αυτοκριτική και ψυχραιμία, μακριά από μικρόψυχες πολεμικές και αισθήματα πολιτικής εκδίκησης, από τους ίδιους τους Ελληνες μειονοτικούς. Η ομογένεια στην Αλβανία περνάει δύσκολες ώρες και είναι χρέος των ηγετών της να σταθούν στο ύψος των περιστάσεων. Η Αθήνα οφείλει να βοηθήσει, αποστασιοποιημένη από έριδες, διαμάχες και προσωπικά συμφέροντα και αποφεύγοντας διχαστικές κινήσεις.